More recruitment agencies, which were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, have now shutdown their operations, according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
“Many of these recruitment agencies have closed down their main offices and branches due to Covid-related economic slowdown. Their numbers are now in the two digits,” POEA Administrator Bernard P. Olalia told BusinessMirror in a Viber message.
He made the remark in response to the statement from the recruitment industry that as much as 600 to 700 Covid-affected land-based recruitment agencies have stopped their operations.
Recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani attributed this to travel restrictions imposed by several countries in the Middle East.
“The overseas recruitment industry, a multibillion pesos business, has nearly collapsed with the Covid-19 pandemic hold on many parts of the world especially in the Middle East where 70 percent is our yearly deployment,” Geslani said.
Based on the initial data it presented during a Senate budget hearing, POEA said the number of deployed this year was 1,394,788 as of last month, which was considerably lower compared to the 2 million for the entire 2019.
Of the said OFWs deployed this year, 1,101,040 were land-based and 293,748 were sea-based.
Geslani said one of the most severely affected were household service workers (HSW), which he said, make up 60 percent of the country’s yearly deployment figures.
He said the low deployment in the Middle East is expected to continue up to next year since the top destination for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the region remain closed to foreigners except Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.
He also noted that cruise ships in the United States is believed to start operating by the first quarter of this year, while in Europe, “very few cruise operators have started due to limited number of passenger bookings, coupled with very strict health and safety protocols.”
“The deployment situation will still be low unless former labor markets open up and allow workers to come in and their own economies start moving,” Geslani said.